Maddy Hudson got her start in music at the age of 6 in a school play. She knew she wanted to be a singer from the moment she stepped on stage.
“Nothing makes me feel as good as making other people happy,” the Pleasanton native said. “And music is just a universal language that helps to facilitate happiness.”
In the years since her first performance, Hudson, now 21, has appeared on the 14th season of television’s “American Idol,” composed original music and performed around the Bay Area. At 5:30 p.m. on Friday, she will entertain patrons at Mullins Bar and Grill.
Hudson draws inspiration from vocalists such as Frank Sinatra, Etta James and Whitney Houston.
“I was never someone that needed a microphone,” she said.
At 16, Hudson auditioned for “American Idol,” singing Beyoncé’s “Resentment” in front of celebrity judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban. The judges selected Hudson, along with a couple hundred others, to advance to “boot camp” in Hollywood.
“I actually had a cool experience, because (the judges) handed me the whole entire stack (of ‘golden tickets’) and they told me to tell everyone else to go home,” Hudson said.
Hudson described a stressful week in Hollywood, where she and her fellow Idol hopefuls were kept in the dark about when they were going to perform and rarely slept. Still, she said she learned valuable lessons.
Lopez, an award-winning artist, told Hudson in a private conversation to make sure she connected with her audiences, rather than worrying about judgment.
“Once I realized that it wasn’t about other people scrutinizing my every move, and that it was just about me trying to make sure that (the audience’s) day was a little bit better ... because of my music or because of me and my presence, it made things a lot easier,” Hudson said.
Hudson was eliminated from the competition after making the top 48. But as her time on the show came to a close, she realized she was pursuing her career of choice for the right reasons. “It has to be for the love of it because there’s gonna be a lot more heartache than glitz and glamour,” she said.
Since “American Idol,” Hudson has been performing around the Bay Area and recording original music in Los Angeles. She said she tries to find “a jazzy, soulful take” on anything from Elton John to Post Malone.
Hudson has never performed in Half Moon Bay but said she enjoys boogie-boarding and riding horses at Sea Horse Ranch.
“I’m such a beach baby,” she said.